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Slow down your fashion

Mary Elizabeth Autry
Senior Saniya Young sells her homemade crochet items at the annual Memphis Cooper Young festival.

By now you probably know that fast fashion is terrible. It is cheap, wasteful and pollutive. It produces 92 tonnes of textile waste every year and is notorious for using child labor and forcing workers to endure slave-like conditions. Also, it turns out fast fashion can even make you sick.

It’s obviously terrible. But what can you do?  I would be lying if I said that this is easy, but nothing about saving the world from climate change, exploitative labor or toxic chemicals is easy.



One common answer is thrifting. Thrifting, or buying used clothes from thrift stores, is an opportunity to reuse what already exists instead of having to produce more. It’s a smart use of your money, too.

Ms. Jessica Love, a St. Mary’s English teacher, sees thrifting as a financial win as well as an environmental one.

“I grew up in the middle of a cotton field in Arkansas,” she said. “My mom and dad owned a feed store. My childhood was spent [on the] farm … All of my clothes when I was a kid were thrifted. When I first started working … I would buy new clothes because I didn’t have new clothes when I was growing up, and the consequence of that was that I took out credit cards that I shouldn’t have taken out and spent a lot of money.”

Having learned from that experience, Ms. Love changed her ways. 

“Now I almost exclusively thrift all of my clothes except for shoes and undergarments,” she said. 

For her, the environmental benefits are a bonus rather than the primary motivation.

“For me, I really don’t consciously think I’m going to buy this so there’s not more clothes going into the landfill. I don’t necessarily think of that, but it’s there. I can retroactively say yes, I am an eco-conscious person,” she said. 

 However, she doesn’t buy everything sustainably. 

“I’m not an all-or-nothing kind of person,” she said. “I do buy the occasional new sweater or the occasional new shirt that I see at Target and I really like.” 

For senior Alice Lee, prioritizing sustainability is not about being perfect, it is about making the effort.  

“I usually have to buy my pants from fast fashion because I have a hard time thrifting them, and buying a good pair of pants from a sustainable place can be very hard,” Lee said.

“It’s kinda where we encounter the line between what is a reasonable ask of us and what is not,” Lee said. “A reasonable ask of us is to never shop from Shein just because all of their clothes are so bad.”

Thrifting is a great form of slow fashion that is accessible to most people and helps keep used clothes out of the landfill. But if that’s not your speed, you might try…



Thrifting is great, but another, more time-consuming, form of slow fashion is making your own clothes.

While the majority of my clothes are premade, I enjoy knitting and sewing a few items in my free time. 

I am not alone on this.

Senior Saniya Young is an avid crocheter, who loves making her own tops, cardigans and shorts. 

“You can make exactly what you want, they will fit you perfectly and you get something you can be proud of,” Young said. 

I understand the feeling. It is the best feeling in the world when someone says to me, “I like your outfit,” and I get to say “Thanks I made it.” 

An added benefit to making your own clothes is combatting the size discrimination found in most stores. The average woman is a size 14 yet many stores only carry up to a size 16.

Some women have found a way around this by making their own clothes. In my experience, clothes that I made are the most well fitting that I own. 

But you also do not have to make all your clothes from scratch. Buying clothes and altering them to fit you is also very sustainable, especially if you alter thrifted clothes.  

But maybe you don’t sew or knit or crochet. That’s okay (though the St. Mary’s Knitting Club would love to help!). If you can’t make your own clothes then you can consider supporting someone who does. 

But you’ll have to move fast. Young recently put her crochet items up for sale at the Cooper-Young Festival and completely sold out. 

But let’s say you want to buy new. There’s such a thing as… 



When Lee buys premade clothing she always researches the brand beforehand. 

“[I look for] stores that treat their workers fairly and give them good hours and pay, not abusing their power over workers,” Lee said. “The environmental impact is also very important. I like to see how brands try to reduce the waste production of their clothing.”

Patagonia is one of the most well known eco-friendly brands. Some others include prAna, Proclaim, 337 Brand, Toad&Co, Canned Goods Clothing and Harvest & Mill. 

Researching brands also ensures that your clothes contain no harmful chemicals.

In 2018, Delta Airlines designed and produced a new flight attendant uniform. However, shortly after the new uniform was issued many flight attendants began to experience breathing problems, rashes, swollen eyes and hair loss. 

After some investigation, it was found that the fire-resistant chemicals and dyes used in the fabric are what caused the reactions. 

Chemicals like BPA, PFAS and phthalates are still found in clothing today. BPA is known to cause increased blood pressure, babies exposed to PFAS in the womb have been known to have birth defects and phthalates can cause headaches and nausea. 

That alone is enough to convince me to shop from sustainable sources. 

While it’s easy to say that fast fashion is bad, it is harder to actually do something about it. But small changes in our shopping habits can make a big difference. Sometimes it is just about the little things.

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About the Contributors
MC Hitt
MC Hitt, Reporter
After spending her summer binging 13 seasons of “Doctor Who,” MC Hitt is pumped to start her first year on Tatler. Some people say MC can be described as daring since she would be willing to save humanity and fight in a zombie apocalypse, but when she is not saving the world, MC loves to climb on the St. Mary’s climbing team and listen to Olivia Rodrigo on repeat. Ironically, MC has two dogs, but is a cat person at heart and plans to adopt a cat as soon as she gets to college. Though she is just a sophomore, MC knows that she wants to pursue a career in writing and is super excited to get to develop her skills as a writer on Tatler this year. MC plans to express her passion for writing by reporting on local news stories and sharing her opinions on topics that she believes need attention. She couldn’t be more thrilled to do great work for Tatler this year! 
Mary Elizabeth Autry
Mary Elizabeth Autry, Photographer
Mary Elizabeth is a freshman starting her first year on Tatler as a photographer. She has always been interested in photography and is excited to share her photos with others through Tatler. Mary Elizabeth has been a ballet dancer for around five years. When she is not in the studio or taking photos you can find her playing with her two dogs, Jengo and Romy, baking, running, reading or watching her favorite TV shows. Right now, she is a big fan of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” (a big fan of the books too), but she cannot wait for the new season of “Stranger Things” to come out. Although it is not Mary Elizabeth’s first year at St. Mary’s, she is excited to experience all the traditions that high school has to offer. Specifically, she cannot wait for her first Derby Day. Mary Elizabeth cannot wait for her first year on Tatler and her first year as a high schooler!

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  • D

    Day GalbreathOct 7, 2023 at 8:23 pm


  • E

    Evie ForeSep 29, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    mc this article is super amazing and informational. i never knew that fast fashion could negatively impact people in so many ways. these are great alternatives! good job